BodyShopBids: Get an Instant Auto Repair Estimate From a Phone Pic

December 16, 2011

10:00 am

No, you didn’t read that headline wrong. BodyShopBids, a new Lightbank-backed Chicago startup, is helping provide auto repair estimates directly from photos you snap from your phone.

Basically, if you have any external damage to your vehicle, you snap a couple of pictures – along with a brief damage report – and submit them to BodyShopBids via their mobile app or website. (This takes about 3 minutes to do.) You instantly receive a call from a customer service rep who talks you through the rest of the process.

Within 24 hours of sending your photos, you’ll receive at least three certified estimates in your inbox from nearby body shops that have been pre-screened by the guys at BodyShopBids. Compare prices, find the one you like, and you can go ahead and set up an appointment through the app.

No one likes getting in an unexpected fender bender, but having an app like this on-hand might save you a lot of time and stress. Not to mention it’s a win-win for both parties involved – the app does all the work in finding an estimate for you, and body shops are brought new business. According to the site, you can save up to 70% on auto repair if you use the app.

Founded by Brad Weisberg, BodyShopBids with the hopes of making the painful process of care repair a thing of the past.

“Back in 2005, I walked out of Red Lobster to find a nice big dent in the side of my car, put there by an unknown neighbor in a city I had just moved to. As a recent addition to the area, I didn’t have a ‘go to’ body shop and didn’t have a clue where to start,” says Weisberg.

After driving around aimlessly looking for a decent body shop, Weisberg found estimates ranging from $300 to a whopping $1200 for the same repair.

“I never forgot how unhappy I was with the process. There had to be a better way. And so it was – BodyShopBids was born,” says Weisberg.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Can auto body shops really estimate repairs by photo?” I know I was skeptical about how accurate the estimates were, but the reality is that if there’s additional damage that can’t be seen in the photo, your actual price might be different – so your estimate is only as good as the photos you submit. But BodyShopBids is great about asking you to update the report if they feel the photos don’t tell the whole story. The startup can even send an estimator straight to you if you’ve been in a major collision and there’s damage to the car’s mechanicals or frame.

BodyShopBids has clearly gone the extra mile when it comes to service quality and customer satisfaction. The startup is getting rave reviews all over the web – and all it took was a little elbow grease. In fact, Weisberg has imparted some wise words for other aspiring entrepreneurs out there: that you don’t need an MBA or fancy degree to be successful.

“You just need passion for an idea and the resourcefulness to bring that idea to life. I literally used money I saved up from my Bar Mitzvah to get the first version of BodyShopBids off the ground and made it my mission to become an expert in the body shop business.  I learned as much as I could on my own and then networked like crazy with other entrepreneurs to learn from their personal experience,” Weisberg said.

The BodyShopBids system is currently live at over 275 Chicago-area body shops, and has already processed more than $1.5 million in damage estimates. The startup is in the process of expanding its coverage to Los Angeles.

The free app is available now for iPhone and Android. You can also sign up for the service at their website here.  Learn more about how the whole process works in this video:

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Trisha Cruz is a Tech Cocktail intern with a passion for writing and design. She is a rising third year at the University of Virginia majoring in Media Studies and minoring in Studio Art. Follow her at: @heytrisha

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